Sparking Habit Change – Living the Life You Want

Another Way - Revealed Healing - Habit Change

4:15 am:

This girl had been through enough. She was really sick of waking up to her alarm clock blaring at her bedside every single morning. She had a habit of thinking she’d only been asleep for about 20 minutes. Yet every time she forced her eyes open a tiny bit, that stupid clock already said it was time to get up. Then of course, all the excuses settled in: she had a headache, she was sore, her arm fell asleep because she’d slept on it the whole time…. Was the sun even up yet? Her eyes weren’t open enough to tell anyway, so of course this meant that she couldn’t possibly get up yet. #SnoozeButton.

Six snooze buttons later:

She often found herself wondering why she still felt like crap. She flopped out of bed yawning and flinging herself across the room towards the closet. Couldn’t find her socks or gym shoes, which she could have sworn she’d laid out the night before… Well, more like 5 hours ago, since she didn’t actually fall asleep until midnight. She was about to be late getting to the gym, which would cause a small ripple giant tsunami in the rest of her day. Awesome.

Yeah folks. That was Yours Truly.

I had so much trouble figuring out what was wrong with me in the mornings.

*WARNING: Extreme sarcasm ahead!*

Surely it was OK going to bed at midnight and expecting to wake up at 4:15 am so you can be at the gym by 5:00, then work out until 6:30, then get showered and dressed and leave for work by 7:00 am, only to work 8-10 hours, then go home, eat, clean, organize, have some “relaxing time,” then fall asleep a few minutes before midnight, only to wake up at 4:15 am again the next day and do it alllllll again! Totally reasonable, right?

*End sarcasm*

Nope. Not happening. I feel tired just by typing all that.

Well, it actually did happen for about two months. The first two weeks of my 4:15 am wake-up calls were actually not so bad. I got in great workouts, was focused during work, and felt more relaxed once I got home. I was even able to be in bed by 9:00 pm during those first two weeks.

Then the problems started.

Of course, my Type A perfectionist mind did a quick calculation that sealed my habitual doom:

More spare time in the day = More things to cram into the day

So after those precious two weeks were over, things got crazy. I’d get home from work, I’d find tasks that needed finishing: cleaning, working on my blog, researching some big complicated project I wanted to start, taking online courses to learn new skills, reorganizing my closet, cleaning out my old computer files, and so on. The list went on endlessly. Then I started going to bed at midnight, only to dread getting up the next day – literally at the crack of dawn – to go do a 75 pound dead lift at 5 in the morning….

My body was like, “Um. No thanks.”

I knew my body was upset with me when I started getting random chills and crazy cravings one day, to feeling way overheated and not hungry at all the next day. I stopped caring about a lot of things that were important to me, and I was just getting by – wearing masks and pretending that I was OK, even though I was literally beating myself up with my schedule.

So now that most of you think I’m crazy for going through this season in my life, let me explain a little more. It is (and has always been) a habit of mine to do everything I possibly can. I tried to do literally, all of the things and pack everything I love into my life – creating, reading, journaling, working out, being a friend, volunteering, being an entrepreneur, being a student….

But why?

Because I had a fear of missing out on something good. I thought I had to bust it to make things happen for myself. This is true to a certain extent, but there is also a need for BALANCE. A desire for WHOLENESS and WELLNESS. And I was certainly not doing that. In fact, I refused to let myself have rest – I had to keep doing things.

Reality Check:

The Universe is funny in that way though because in forcing myself to be and to do everything, I actually didn’t love any of it after awhile. Everything became something I was forcing myself to do, instead of something I actually loved to do. It wasn’t fun anymore. It wasn’t inspiring. It wasn’t engaging. It wasn’t fulfilling the calling that God had put on my heart.

The habit I allowed myself to fall into was one of performance and control.

Simply checking things off the list so my life “stays on the right track,” is what I would tell myself. I thought that if I performed everything well (and did it all as quickly as I could so I could do even more later,) then my life would be in control.

Am I hitting anyone in the feels with this one? I know I’m not alone here!

I knew logically that only God was in control of my life, but I was subliminally believing that if I took on way more than I could handle, then it would somehow balance itself. Then, I’d be able to open up more opportunities for myself in all areas of my life, spiritually, relationally, and physically. My intention was great, but my method and logic was way off track.

Hitting the Brick Wall:

It wasn’t until I started falling asleep while brushing my teeth in front of the bathroom mirror that I realized things had to change. I was running into this fatigue like a brick wall – EVERY SINGLE DAY. Similar to many other people, for me, there is no such thing as “catching up on sleep,” but I still thought the weekends would be an opportunity for me to just catch an extra couple of hours of snoozin’ time. Not so. Saturday morning, my body was up at 5:30 am, and wanted nothing but hibernation by 6:45 pm on a Saturday evening. My circadian rhythms were thrown off. My appetite was up and down, and so were my moods. I was more stressed, more overwhelmed, and less excited about all of the things I knew I loved and had the talents to perform well. My habits had to change.

Here’s the thing about Habit Change:

It sucks.

Remember, I said I had an ingrained habit of doing everything I possibly can. Ever since I was little, I remember always volunteering to help the teacher clean up after we’d finished our craft for the day. I signed up for every sport I could fit in my class schedule in high school. In college, I got in trouble for working 3 on-campus jobs while having nightly labs 2-3 times a week. So I narrowed it down to 2 jobs and still did the 3rd on a volunteer basis. I refused to give up for fear of missing out on opportunities; but also for fear of letting other people down – including myself.

Realizing that I needed to slow down and cutting some things out of my schedule (at least temporarily) was devastating.

That’s when the anxiety crept in:

I’ll gain weight or lose the progress I’ve made in the past two months if I don’t go to the gym.

I’ll miss out on getting everything done at work, and I’ll miss out on overtime if I don’t work longer hours.

If I don’t stay on top of the new trends in my creative community, I’ll be a defunct, lame artist.

If I don’t write a blog, I’ll be upset with myself for not following through on something I promised myself I’d do.

I’ll feel like a terrible person if I don’t journal and have alone time with God.

Not only did I start to see my life as crazy and unmanageable, but I started to feel like punishment would come if I didn’t complete my to-do list. Would I really turn into a blob if I took a break from the gym? No. Would it really be a life or death situation if I went home after 8 hours of work? No. Am I really a lame artists if I don’t know every single creative and digital trend going on in today’s world. No! Would God really think I was a terrible person if I didn’t journal? No! All of this freaking out occurred because catastrophizing has always been a part of my meltdown process.

So, in order to get out of this crazy, selfish way of thinking, I had to initiate habit change very carefully to ensure my success.

Here’s what that looked like:

1. Start small

Too much change can overwhelm and complicate a person more than necessary, and I knew this was definitely the case for me. So I started with the thing I was struggling with the most physically – SLEEP. I asked myself “How can I get more sleep?” The answer: “Sleep more in the mornings.” This meant not going to the gym at 5:00 am, but I was OK with that, since I was exhausted anyway. Once I mastered the habit of sleeping in until 5:15 am instead of 4:15, I tackled the next goal.

2. Set up conditions for inevitable success – Foresight

I had to ask myself, “What might stop me from sleeping in more in the mornings?” My answer was: feelings of worry, shame, or fear.

FEELINGS. That was the core problem that was keeping me from taking care of my body and allowing it to rest.

  • felt like I needed to go to the gym to stay fit.
  • felt like I was being lazy if I didn’t get up at 4:15 am.
  • felt like 4-6 hours of sleep should be enough for me.

My feelings themselves may have been valid since I manifested them (the last thing I wanted to do was shame myself for having feelings), but my feelings were definitely not reliable. Hear my heart on this, everyone – there is a difference between validity and reliability. More so, I would have never recommended my crazy schedule and regimen to anyone else I cared about!

I set unfair standards for myself that I would never have put on anyone else.

This was a GAME CHANGER for me: Once I was able to nurture the part of me that needed to feel OK with not busting my butt on the treadmill at 5:00 am, I knew I had access to inevitable success. I nurtured that part of me by reaching out to health coaches, accountability partners, and trusted friends, who called me out when I was being crazy. They reminded me that I am more than just what I can do or what I look like.

They encouraged me to take time to nourish my mind and soul with Scriptures, journaling those feelings, prayer, meditation, and deep recovery work for my personal growth. I listened and took a step closer to healing.

3. Routine and Repeat

Once I was able to soothe my flustering feelings, I was able to calmly set my alarm clock to 5:15 am on a regular basis. It became a part of my natural routine after about 3 weeks. Then, once my morning routine was more manageable, I repeated steps 1 and 2 of the habit change process with my nighttime tasks. What was it that I was so freaked out about not getting done that I had to stay up until midnight? What was going to self-destruct if I didn’t diffuse it after 10:30 pm?


So again, I came back to easing the tense parts of me that felt the need to become the Nocturnal Super Woman, and I made sure I got myself into bed by 10:30 pm, to start.

The process isn’t perfect, of course. I often lose track of time and wander off to bed after 11:00 pm or hit the snooze button a few times in the morning. But I’ve reclaimed the things I love because I’m in a better space mentally and spiritually to enjoy them for everything they are. A great bonus is that I’m not falling asleep brushing my teeth anymore either.

I’ve also gotten to do a lot more relaxing yet challenging yoga sessions with a good friend. That has been a great way to switch things up from the high intensity solo workouts I was so accustomed to doing. I’ve surprised myself with how much I enjoy at-home yoga too! There are some great resources on YouTube, and although I can’t do a headstand at the moment, just know that it’s coming, my friends. It’s coming. 🙂

Embracing Habit Change:

  • What is it in your life that is looking to grow and expand?
  • What habit change would benefit your life in this season?
  • What can you let go of that is no longer serving you in your healing?

I’m wrapping up today’s post with this gem:


To your health,

Brandie Nicole

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